10 Menu Items Every Cafe Should Include

The first and foremost thing on your mind, as a cafe proprietor, is to make your customers happy. Designing your space, hiring your staff, and buying your coffee supplies is all done with their satisfaction in mind. Why wouldn’t it? If your coffee shop doesn’t offer your customers what they are looking for, they wouldn’t turn into long-term patrons that you need to scale your business. Simply put, you need to cater to customer satisfaction every way you can in order to sustain and fulfill your dream of running a successful cafe. 

But seeing that coffee shops cater to a diverse range of people, keeping everyone happy is nothing short of a feat. While some of your customers will be happy with a shot of espresso, others might like a specific type of latte. Where some of your regular patrons go for an iced coffee, some other loyal customers may prefer a piping hot cup of joe. All in all, the more customers you serve, the more diverse their preferences will become. That is why it is highly crucial that your cafe menu ideas keep your most popular customer segments in mind.

Having a variety of coffee shop menu suggestions helps you fulfill the needs of your target market without turning a large chunk of it away, which is the real goal of running a business in the service industry. It’s simple, really: the more customers you serve, the better revenues you generate. With a growing customer base, you are able to kick your cafe off the ground and scale to the height it deserves. 

With that in mind, it is also essential that you don’t go crazy with designing your cafe menu ideas. Your best bet is to keep it simple while also offering the most popular items that customers expect from a budding coffee shop. If you offer a lot of items on the menu right off the bat, you can run into issues such as inventory management, staff skillset, and customer satisfaction even before your coffee shop finds its footing. That’s why, it is essential that you stick to the trendiest offerings at the start, and build up your menu from there.

Needless to say, striking this balance between simplicity and variety can be difficult for a new coffee shop. Seeing this, we have put together a comprehensive list of coffee shop menu suggestions that will help you cover the basics while also keeping your customers happy. You can easily term these 10 menu items as the “must-haves” at your cafe, and see how your customers flock towards them on a day to day basis. 

1. Espresso

What’s a coffee shop without this super basic yet super crucial beverage, anyway? An espresso shot is not only essential to those who like a certain kick with their cup of coffee, but it is also important for a variety of popular drinks. Americano, affogato, romano, latte – you name it, and espresso serves as the base of it. That is why it is absolutely imperative that you keep this coffee at the very heart of your cafe menu ideas.

Adding espresso to your menu helps you cater to the widest range of coffee enthusiasts. You will need to invest into commercial-grade equipment to serve this coffee by the minute, but it is all going to be worth it when you see those numbers on your cash register. Just remember to also buy the great quality of coffee beans so you can keep your customers coming back for a refreshing cup of joe.

2. Latte

You can’t mention espresso without also speaking of latte. As you may have learned from the explanation above, authentic latte drinks are all made out of an espresso base. Latte also covers some of the most popular coffee drinks in the world, including but not limited to cappuccino, macchiato, and mocha. Since these drinks are also some of the best selling choices at any cafe, it is essential that latte is on your coffee shop menu suggestions.

Once again, you will need to invest into some commercial-grade equipment to serve latte drinks. But most of those machines will also allow you to brew a large variety of these drinks through the same equipment. Seeing this, invest in some varietal equipment to make a host of drinks out of it, and keep your latte loving customers happy through your offerings. 

3. Iced Coffee

Cold brew is all the rage these days. But due to its simplicity, more and more customers are turning towards making it at their homes. What they are not mostly making at home is an iced coffee, since it takes more than a mason jar and to make this complex yet delicious drink. 

Making iced coffee will require just some simple equipment from yourself and basic skills from your barista, which makes it an obvious choice in terms of cafe menu ideas. You can also offer some variations within this drink that help you set your offerings apart from your competitors. Since its popularity is more apparent among the younger crowds, you are also going to enjoy an expanding customer base that prefers getting their caffeine fix from a cafe than their kitchen. 

4. Bagels

Hopping off of the obvious coffee train, we are now into the territory of snacks and food items that are staples for a coffee shop. What’s the first thing on these coffee shop menu suggestions? The ubiquitous bagel – what else.

While you can find them often as street food in the most popular cities of the U.S., bagels are also a very popular food pairing for those getting their morning coffee from a cafe. Just set up your display case with a variety of bagels, and you are good to go in terms of upselling and cross-selling to your customers during the busiest hours of the day. 

What you will need is the right staff with the experience to make bagels from scratch or a third-party vendor that makes them fresh every morning. When you or your supplier make a bagel following its authentic recipes, it will not only sell through face value but will also work as the repeat-selling item. 

5. Donuts

For those who like sugary snacks, nothing can go wrong with a donut. The same notion applies when you are devising cafe menu ideas for your coffee shop. Not much can go wrong while choosing donuts as one of your prime snack items. 

With a variety of donuts to choose from and a very low cost to make them, you can ensure that you strike that balance you need between variety and budget. The equipment you will need here is not going to be that expensive and might also come in handy while making some other food items. Just make sure to price your donuts properly while offering a mix of classic and experimental flavors, and you will be able to make the most out of this offering. 

6. Croissant

Think about some of the most popular snacks that people like having with their coffee, and a croissant will pop up in your mind right away. There are a few reasons why this particular, buttery pastry is so popular. It offers a signature texture and flavor that you cannot find within several other snacks. It is affordable and accessible. And it also packs a certain kick of energy that most people need with their breakfast coffee.

Once again, making croissants will need some skills from your staff. If you are baking your products in house, then you will need to invest in the right equipment for it. But given that croissants are one of the most popular items on a coffee shop menu, the investment is totally worth it. You can also use your plain croissants to turn them into a variety of sandwiches, which is yet another way to increase revenue without investing too much into different coffee shop menu suggestions.

7. Breakfast Sandwich

Speaking of sandwiches, one of the classic choices that you can put on your cafe menu ideas is a breakfast sandwich. The possibilities are endless. You can use a variety of ingredients to make this breakfast sandwich a reality on your menu. But regardless of the variation, it is going to cater to your customer base in a way that has a significant impact on your sales.

Apart from the obvious choices in ingredients such as eggs, bacon, and toast, you can put your own spin on things and use a base such as a croissant or even a donut, with ingredients ranging from grilled chicken to eggplant for a vegetarian-friendly option. Having a breakfast sandwich on the menu will keep your revenues on an upward trend, while also establishing your reputation as more than a simple coffee shop. Make sure that you have an experienced staff to handle this offering since it all comes down to taste on this one item.

8. Breakfast Pizza

When you are talking about the best selling snacks, you cannot ignore the presence of pizza. Yes, pizza on a coffee shop menu can sell like hotcakes when it is made and presented the right way. What’s the right way here, you ask? To turn pizza into a warm and comforting offering that is a mix between breakfast and lunch.

In other words, it’s breakfast pizza.

Made out of very common toppings such as eggs, bacon, sausages, and cheese, this particular offering can appease your customers the most if your coffee shop has a seating arrangement. If you are selling your coffee and snacks through a pop-up or a food truck, then you can go the mini pizza route to hand the pizza to go, and still enjoy the benefits of including this popular dish to your coffee shop menu suggestions. Apart from the breakfast sandwich above, this breakfast pizza is yet another way to branch out to more exciting food items through your cafe.

9. Cupcakes

Once ranked as one of the most popular foods in the U.S., cupcakes are still going strong in terms of the demand that surrounds them. With different varieties and toppings to choose from, they remain quite a staple for coffee shops especially during busy lunch hours as well as closing time. If you want to serve best-selling sugary snacks to a variety of customers through your cafe, then cupcakes are the way to go. 

You can have your staff prepare your cupcakes with some of the most basic flavors and toppings. But you can also source them through a third-party vendor. Make sure that you are not baking large batches when you start offering them, and wait for your customers’ response to the display. Once you are sure of the demand that surrounds them, you can easily add them as a permanent item to your cafe menu ideas.

10. Macarons

Another sweet snack that you can offer easily in your cafe is the macaron. Made out of a meringue-base, these colorful little offerings add quite a charm to your display and attract different customers as they buy their preferred form of coffee. Since they are light and still promise a distinctly sweet taste, they are very popular among customers who do not want something as heavy as a cupcake, yet need to satisfy their sweet tooth. 

You can make macarons in-house through an experienced staff member, or simply go the route of contacting a third-party supplier. Starting off slow with these offerings and increasing their supply with customer demand is a good way to go for your cafe. Make sure that your baristas are trying their best to sell them, especially to your evening crowd, since that’s a good time for people to enjoy something of this sort and treat themselves. 

Overall, having these 10 items in your coffee shop menu suggestions can elevate your offerings to serve a large variety of customers. Most of these items also come in vegetarian and vegan options, so you can also cater to that customer base quite easily. 

But whatever you do, make sure to check your finances and foot traffic before adding more items to your menu. As a pro-tip, ensure that your staff is also trying their best to up-sell and cross-sell customers as they see fit, since that is going to help you meet your daily sales goals with ease.

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